If it’s up to Netflix and the makers, Rachel Stone’s adventures should become a series of films à la James Bond. Stone gets in Heart of Stone (2023) portrayed as a female Bond and the plot is suspiciously similar to the last Mission: Impossible movie. Which is not surprising, if you know that the same producers are also behind this production. But where Bond and Hunt succeed, Stone falls through the ice. So is it a really bad movie? It doesn’t, but it doesn’t really come to life anywhere.
Artificial intelligence and playing cards
Rachel Stone (Gal Gadot) is both a computer hacker in a group of British secret agents and a highly trained CIA agent who is part of The Charter, a large secret organization that is supposed to keep the peace. A kind of double agent. The English camp also includes Parker (Jamie Dornan), Yang (Jing Lusi) and Baily (Paul Ready). In the American camp are Nomad (Sophie Okonedo) and King of Diamonds (Glenn Close). Those names refer to playing cards, which immediately form their identity. Together with her own Q Jack of Hearts (Matthias Schweighöfer) – who appears surprisingly often in all kinds of Netflix productions – she navigates the most difficult courses through a hologram that can see just about everything in the world. However, we’ve seen that so many times before and here it’s laughable rather than serious. That AI system is called The Heart and can influence the world both positively and negatively. How surprising it is that someone with bad intentions is only too eager to control that system.
Who can’t get enough of Gal Gadot, the gorgeous Israeli/American actress we saw earlier in Wonder Woman (2017), Red Notice (2021) – also a Netflix Original – and recently still in Fast X (2023), will not be disappointed by this film. Dornan also plays an excellent and important supporting role and we also see Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt as Keya Dhawan. But the film itself and in particular the story and storylines also seem to have been put together by artificial intelligence. Besides, we’ve all seen it before and better. Like I said, recently Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023).
Let’s not be too critical
Admittedly, the action looks fine and convincing, but the story and the many characters just don’t want to get off the ground. In addition, it is now a succession of action and more action, so you don’t even get time to recover. But what’s an abundance of action worth if you don’t have a solid story or characters you can relate to. There is also a lack of tension. You are never on the edge of your seat because it is so incredibly exciting. You never actually sympathize with anyone because they are cardboard figures. The only thing that can surprise you or get you a little excited is indeed the action, but rather dosed.
But let’s not be too critical right away, maybe this franchise still needs to grow and maybe there will be more room for characters and storylines and we say after a few films, that Rachel Stone and her films, they are damn worth it. Unfortunately, that cannot be said at the moment.
Beeld: Still ‘Heart of Stone’ via Robert Viglasky/Netflix © 2023